Part of an esteemed series of double acts alongside Underworld and Orbital which suddenly brought a futuristic feel to electronica, Way Out West have had a transformative impact on dance music.
Even though the Bristolians initially decided Way Out West would be a secondary venture they soon focused all their attention and almost immediately gained significant recognition in the form of a UK Chart position. Being able to continually make a bold impression in electronic music for 25 years is no mean feat, but the duo consisting of Jody Wisternoff and Nick Warren have done exactly that, recently releasing a fifth album.
The pair talked about how they have progressed as artists, seeing their music feature on video games, the challenges with juggling live shows and DJ sets and much more. Join us as we go back In Conversation.
You are set to embark on a UK tour from next February until the start of March following the release of your fifth studio album. Which city has been the best place to perform for you and why?
Nick: For me Buenos Aires is the best city to perform in, a great passionate crowd with great musical taste, great food and wine plus obsessed with football, what is there not to like?!
Jody: I’ve had great nights at all these cities over the years but if you put a gun to my head I would have to choose London. Even though I live in Bristol I very rarely do parties there, the capital is the city in the UK I play on a frequent basis and the gigs are always incredible.
Your fifth album came out earlier this year, what has the reception been like?
Nick: The reception has been brilliant, we have had number 1 and 2 in tons of countries on iTunes and it’s brought us even more new fans.
Jody: Really strong across the board. Sales have been healthy and DJ feedback great.
What was your goal with this album?
Nick: Just to make an album we love and can be proud of.
Jody: Just to make a body of work that I feel will stand the test of time. Tracks like “Oceans” and “Tuesday Maybe” are up there with our greatest, IMO.
It has been six years since your last album. Why did you decide to leave such a period of time between records?
Nick: We didn’t stop working… we both have lots to do on our solo careers but we are working on material the whole time.
Jody: We both have extremely healthy solo careers. My involvement with Anjunadeep has seen me release an artist album and 5 mix compilations during this time, however we never actually stopped working on WOW material during this apparent hiatus. For the 12 tracks that actually make the final cut, there are usually about 100 that don’t.
In that time how do you feel you’ve progressed as artists?
Nick: As the years go on and with experience you learn more and fine tune your taste, that all means we have more to bring to the partnership.
Jody: I’d like to feel I’ve become more technically proficient, especially when it comes to doing mix-downs. The quality of plugins has greatly improved over the years and there are so many new studio techniques that people are using these days, due to these technological advances.
You started putting out music in the early 90s. How much has the industry and the scene changed for you since first starting Way Out West?
Nick: It has changed in a huge way, in the early days it was all CDs and Vinyl and no internet, now the world is a much smaller place and you are in touch with all your fans at all times, it has taken us all around the world many times and I love the way things have changed.
Jody: I actually started in the late 80s, I put out a Hip Hop 12” whilst still at school lol. But yeah, obviously everything has changed in ways we couldn’t imagine back then. As long as you are happy to travel the world and do shows, it is possible to have a healthy career - making a living from being a sit at home producer is very unlikely.
With all the success that you have enjoyed over the years is it still weird when you look back on the time when Way Out West was a side-project for you?
Jody: I’d like to think that we have always managed to balance our individual and WOW careers pretty consistently over the years. Actually, since starting WOW in 1993 my first solo release wasn’t until 2006.
20 years on from your first studio album would you ever have envisaged putting out as much music as you have done and receiving the kind of exposure in the form of chart hits and being featured on soundtracks for video games?
Nick: It has been a ball, every minute of it, to think that our music is still loved after all these years is amazing.
Jody: It’s a dream come true and I pinch myself almost daily lol. I left A levels halfway through with absolutely no back up plan, so it’s do or die. As for the chart hits we had back in the 90s/00s and game sync’s etc. That was definitely a lovely surprise.
Speaking of soundtracks for video games, how surreal a moment was it when you saw one of your records on a video game for the first time?
Nick: Yeah, it’s a great buzz to see your music on a game, it worked really well which is brilliant!
Jody: Very surreal because I think it was a golfing game, which seemed a bit random. Super cool though, from being a gamer when I was a kid this was definitely a buzz.
How much satisfaction does it give you as a producer when your records are deemed influential enough to be included on soundtracks for video games and TV programs?
Nick: To be honest we just make music because we love it, the fact that companies and TV shows want to use it are a bonus.
Jody: It feels like the hard work we put in is validated, and is also confidence building for future prospects if we ever decide to fully concentrate on this side of things.
As well as being prominent performers on the decks you have also enjoyed many years doing live shows. What is the most challenging aspect of switching between the two vocations?
Nick: The 2 things work really well; the only downside is being away touring so much means less time in the studio and more time spent on the road writing on the laptop.
Jody: Playing live involves a lot of rehearsal, preparation and coordination. You need to be a lot more technically focused, compared to DJing where it’s more about getting into the vibe of the room and feeling from the crowd where to take the music. I enjoy both in different ways.
How was it supporting Faithless on their Australian tour?
Nick: It was great fun, I have known Bliss for years but the whole band were great fun to spend time with.
Jody: It was loads of fun, they are a lovely bunch. Their show was incredible too Maxi really knows how to command a room.
Which was the craziest venue/festival you played a live show at and why?
Nick: I think Glastonbury Festival is always a highlight, so many incredible acts in one place over a weekend make it a privilege to play there.
Jody: The Above & Beyond / Anjunadeep party at The Gorge in Seattle recently was insane! The view from the stage over the Gorge was breathtaking, and the label kindly flew every single person from the office out to the party. It was a real family affair.
Way Out West can be caught all over the country in February, with live shows in Leeds, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Nottingham, Brighton and London.
Photo courtesy of Way Out West
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